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Hard Working Class Heroes Festival 2017: Saturday Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 19th October 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Catch up on Rebecca’s Friday night coverage of Hard Working Class Heroes 2017 by following this link.

On Saturday evening, we were pretty excited to see some of the acts that we had lined up on our schedule, as well as to try out Dublin’s newest music venue, The Underground. But first, we hit The Grand Social, following what seemed like a rabbit warren of corridors before we reached the music venue at the rear of the pub. We first saw the peach-haired ROE (pictured above), the 18-year old from Derry, known to her mum as Roisin Donald. Two standouts were ‘Fake Ur Death’, the track she released at the start of the year, and another that she talked about writing a track about her grandfather’s dementia, which she sang passionately and emotionally. Multi-instrumentalist ROE created a range of sound with her guitar and by looping rhythms and is certainly a unique talent to watch out for.

The Underground was next on our list, where we caught the end of Cinema’s set. I was pleased to find we’d not missed out on Peter Fleming’s most well-known track, the ethereal ‘Floating’. I’d heard it what seemed like a hundred times before but had never known who sang it. Cinema is a great chilled out electropop act for fans of celestial, airy tunes.

Kilnamana were up next at The Underground, which despite being a seriously cramped venue had an incredible vibe. It was also the act’s first Irish show. The duo are clearly in love with performing their music, dancing along throughout the set. I’m pretty sure they were also using a theremin; I’d never seen that particular instrument used on stage before, especially not laced with hypnotic synth sounds. Highlights were Miguel Garcia Soler swaying to the music, and Enda Gallery playing his flute into a microphone, while distorting the sound.

We briefly caught ROCSTRONG at Tramline, the venue that we’d fallen in love with the night before. A confident and charismatic performer, he instructed the audience to split into two halves, and chant phrases back to him when he pointed the microphone in their direction, but did seem put out by the some members of the audience choosing to sit down for the set.

Finally, we headed back to Workman’s to check out Bitch Falcon. I must admit, we chose this band purely on name alone, and they definitely aren’t the type of act that I would usually see. We ended up really enjoying their heavy, autotuned, intense set, with lead singer Lizzie Fitzpatrick headbanging away like the coolest front woman in town. The crowd were also delighted to see the band, and we could barely move as we stood watching the performance, being jostled around by the bopping crowd. [Catch all our past coverage on Bitch Falcon through here. – Ed.]

Hard Working Class Heroes is one of those festivals that not only allows you to see some fantastic acts, but also enables you to check out some of the fantastic venues that the city has to offer. For a relative newcomer as myself, it was particularly enjoyable, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

 

Hard Working Class Heroes Festival 2017: Friday Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 18th October 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

This year, the Hard Working Class Heroes Festival based in Dublin turned 15 years old. After starting back in 2003, it has since grown from an event at a single venue to a highly anticipated and buzzing music event, including live performances from a wide range of artists and a music conference.

As we made our way to the Workman’s Club to collect our tickets on Friday, we seemed to come across a busker or musician on every street corner, particularly on the bustling Grafton Street and by the famous Molly Malone statue. It was a reminder that Dublin truly is a city alive with music.

With our passes and lanyards in hand, we headed to the first venue of the night, the brightly painted Tara Building, where we saw the first couple of tracks performed by the teenage troubadour Curtis Walsh. Singing about themes and experiences seemingly beyond his young age (he’s a mere 16 years old), Walsh stood on stage armed with just his guitar and belted out the tracks ‘Drunken Love’ and ‘Bury the Hatchet’. Jake Bugg or Ed Sheeran.

Next we made our way to Tramline, the cool new underground venue and bar on Hawkins Street. Here we saw Erica Cody (pictured at top) perform onstage with her band. With vocals reminiscent of Dua Lipa or Zara Larsson, Cody was a commanding and confident presence onstage. After performing a few of her own tracks, including the single released earlier this year ‘Addicted’, she talked about her how influenced she had been by ‘90s r&b, evidenced by her great cover of the iconic ‘Pony’ by Ginuwine. She was all in all a great performer and had a set filled with funky hooks and electric guitars aplenty.

We next headed back to the Workman’s Club, where we saw perhaps the most captivating act of the weekend, BIMM Dublin graduates The Fontaines [not to be confused with Los Angeles sibling-led group of the same name – Ed.]. Musically Buzzcocks-esque while also reminiscent of The Vaccines and The Hives, it was difficult to keep your eyes off their frontman Grian Chatten, who was swaying about onstage and staring intensely out into the audience like he was the only person in the room. Opening with ‘Rocket to Russia’, an old-school rock ‘n’ roll-sounding number, other highlights were the two recently released tracks ‘Hurricane Laughter’, which the band closed their set with, and ‘Winter in the Sun’, with brilliant lyrics like “I want to feel it winter in the sun / I wanna feel my soul coming undone”. Definitely one of those bands that you’ll want to see live.

After The Fontaines, we stuck around for a short while to catch the start of Other Creatures’ set, which was a much more mellow affair than the riotous act that had come before. The Dublin trio opened with ‘Luxembourg’, which was released as a single earlier this year. Subdued and cool, the trio’s songs are somewhat haunting and edgy, emphasised even more by their lead singer’s unique vocals.

I’d seen Loah (Sallay Matu Garnett) before at the RTE Choice Music Prize show in March, so I knew her performance would be a good one. She features on Bantum’s excellent track ‘Take It’ and on Friday evening, she was on at Tramline. There is something about the underground venue and its hazy lighting that created a fantastic vibe, Loah’s smooth, deep vocals suiting the cool environment. She was clearly having a great time onstage and comfortable as she performed and danced. Garnett talked about how she was from Crumlin, as well as her Sierra Leonean roots, singing in a language from Sierra Leone on ‘Cortège’ (Sherbro and Mende according to her YouTube account page). EP title track ‘This Heart’ is gentle yet powerful, summed up Garnett’s self-described genre ‘ArtSoul’. She finished the set with final track ‘Nothing’, which she described as being about “total destruction of the ego”. [She also appeared at SXSW 2017; catch all our coverage on the Irish/Sierra Leonean soul singer here. –Ed.]

After Loah, we stuck around for the headliner of the night. Dublin-based singer, rapper and poet Jafaris performed before a packed-out audience, telling the crowd with a hopeful tone, “I hope you guys connect with me”. Standout tracks from his set were ‘Love Dies’ and ‘If You Love Me’, which sum up the young songwriter’s chilled-out hip hop/pop style. Jafaris is sure one for fans of Frank Ocean.

Stay tuned for Becky’s review of Saturday night’s showcasing artists at Hard Working Class Heroes 2017, posting here on TGTF tomorrow.

 

Album Review: Ghostpoet – Dark Days + Canapés

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd October 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Ghostpoet Dark Days album coverGhostpoet, real name Obaro Ejimiwe, is the London-born, twice Mercury Prize-nominated poet and musician. His debut album released in 2011, titled ‘Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam’ earned favourable reception and showcased Ejimiwe’s unique blend of electronic Sprechgesang. Since then, he’s released three more studio albums, his latest ‘Dark Days + Canapés’ out now on Play It Again Sam. On the new record, Ejimiwe touches upon a wide range of subjects and ideas from relationships and dating, to social media and the media, and how we frame our connections to others in a modern world. He also moves into a moodier and more subdued musical territory than the album that came before it, ‘Shedding Skin’.

‘Immigrant Boogie’, the first single released from the album, sets the precedence for an album that comments and critiques society, this single digging into the refugee crisis and the emotions surrounding migration. Opening with a jarring guitar note and repetitive drum and synth rhythm, there’s a spookiness to the track, emphasised in the echoing of the music and Ejimiwe’s voice. Ejimiwe positions himself as a refugee, highlighting the struggle that people go through when attempting to find better lives for themselves in a country other than their own: “I was dreaming of a better life / with my two kids and my loving wife / but I can’t swim, the water’s in my lungs / so here if ends when life has just begun”. This track is especially evocative when considering the events of the last few years and the terrible images that have shared as a result of the refugee crisis. The track will no doubt leave some listeners feeling a little uncomfortable and hyper aware of their own privileged in contrast to their heart-breaking plight of many people who are forced to leave their homes every day. .

Then, on ‘Freakshow’, Ejimiwe talks about modern dating. “so I swipe left and figure it out / it’s a freakshow” is a clear reference to Tinder and the bizarre circus of social media dating. On the track, Ejimiwe’s deep and drawling tone matches well with the steady pulse of the backing track and distant-sounding hum of electric guitar that runs over the track. Social media commentary is echoed again on ‘Dopamine If I Do’, specifically with the lyric “shaky on your toes / Instagram your foes”, again hitting out at the bizarre ways that we interact now that our lives are played out on our smartphones.

With a hypnotic electronic opening rhythm, on ‘Live>Leave’ Ejimiwe says, “I’m afraid of the future / I’ve forgiven the past”, again touching at the fear of an uncertain future that is repeated in the media every day. He goes on to say ‘I’m not dumb, I read papers’ and ‘people sold down the river / could be me could be you’, talking about the way in which various groups of people are marginalized not only in society but also targeted with negative stereotypes in the media.

Overall, the album is a melancholy and dark summation of the times that we are in. Scathing recounts of the treatment of our fellow man are placed side by side with criticisms and observations on contemporary life. The title of the album itself speaks of this problematic dichotomy, that darker days exist alongside canapés, a symbol of good fortune and celebratory times. Like much of Ghostpoet’s catalogue, the title and this album are an eloquent way of highlighting the dual aspects of first-world society, with the unfortunate and the privileged existing simultaneously. It’s the type of album that sticks with you long after you’ve listened to it, and tugs at your heartstrings whilst you are listening, by pointing out very relevant and very human issues. On the album, Ejimiwe captures something of the time that we live in, and manages to put into song both the mundane and life-changing issues people face in the modern world.

8/10

Editor Mary Chang contributed to this review. ‘Dark Days + Canapés’, the fourth album from the cerebral Ghostpoet, is out now on PIAS. Catch him on tour starting in late October when he plays shows in the UK and Ireland. For more on Ghostpoet here on TGTF, follow this link.

 

Single Review: Darlia – Beam Me Up

 
By on Wednesday, 14th June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Back in 2013, Darlia released a debut EP ‘Knock Knock’. This was followed by festival appearances and releasing a debut album, ‘Petals’, in early 2015. Now in 2017 we have a new release from the Blackpool-born trio, the ensnaring ‘Beam Me Up’.

The band has been compared to Nirvana many times before. After reading that was the case, I was determined to approach the band with a fresh point of view, but I inevitably found myself comparing Darlia’s sound to that of Seattle’s finest. It’s a resemblance that is particularly evident on previous grungier tracks from the band, like ‘I’ve Never Been to Ohio’ and other tracks from ‘Petals’.

On ‘Beam Me Up’, produced by the band’s own Nathan Day and Frank Colucci, the similarities are still there. There are Cobain-esque notes in Day’s throaty vocals as well as echoes of Cobain’s vulnerable melancholia in the songwriting. Day himself states that he writes music because he can’t afford a therapist, and you can certainly feel the cathartic energy in the track.

Featuring a gently lilting piano in the intro and a chorus packing a solid alt-rock momentum with twanging guitars and whirring electronic notes throughout the whole song, it’s a track that satisfies the grunge-loving teenager in me. Day has the near-monotone drawl in the verses, with the hoarse shout in the chorus down to an art.

There’s honest emotion in lyrics like “wouldn’t it be good / if it was understood”, and “I’m a broken doll”, which, paired with the mysterious synth sounds and upbeat tempo, helps the song from slipping into a self-pitying vibe. You get the feeling this is just Day being himself, and that’s part of the appeal of Darlia’s sound.

8.5/10

Darlia’s new single ‘Beam Me Up’ is out now on Ignition Records. So far this year, Darlia have supported Twin Atlantic on their UK tour, but you can catch them on a number of dates later this year, including Community Festival 2017 at Finsbury Park, and Neighbourhood Festival 2017 in Manchester. It’s been a bit since we wrote about the Blackpool rockers, but you can catch up on all our past coverage of them through here.

 

Album Review: Blaenavon – That’s Your Lot

 
By on Monday, 5th June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Blaenavon That's Your Lot album coverIt’s an interesting and somewhat unorthodox path the trio better known as Blaenavon have tread prior to the release of their debut album. After meeting at school and playing music together since 2013, Ben Gregory, Frank Wright and Harris McMillan decided to take things easy for a few years on the music side, instead focusing on finishing up their A Levels. Then they released some music again, starting with 2015’s ‘Miss World’, before going on to share a bunch of new stuff in 2016. Their debut album ‘That’s Your Lot’ was released earlier this spring on Transgressive Records.

This an ambitious first album when you consider the youth of the guys behind Blaenavon. The music that they’ve created on the album is nuanced and mature in sound, with Gregory’s voice echoing Morrissey’s dour pipes at times, and with jangly guitar moments tapping into Vampire Weekend’s intoxicating festival feel. It’s a rich and dense debut album, suggesting that given room to grow, the threesome will move on to even more interesting stuff.

‘Orthodox Man’, which has racked up nearly a million plays on Spotify, is one of the most appealing tracks on the album, with Gregory singing a range of ohhhs throughout, paired with a hazy, balmy vibe from the guitar and drums, reminiscent somewhat of Theme Park. ‘Take Care’, which opens the album, has a gentle start, before picking up and again puts vocals front and centre, and again hints at an easy-going feel. They’ve definitely released that album in good time for the summer months. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, some music just makes me feel like the longer and brighter days of summer have arrived.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VxmbYaNUDY[/youtube]

First released in 2016, ‘Let’s Pray’ is an upbeat track that trundles along with charming hooks, and, like much of the album, lays bare Gregory’s vocals. The song sees Gregory singing, “let’s pray for death” atop a contrastingly cheery guitar rhythm. ‘Lonely Side’, which positively bubbles along with its piano and guitar, is another track whose lyrics (“I walk the lonely side / I walk the lonely side”) are in stark contrast with the buoyant music.

An album standout is ‘Prague ’99’, which felt like I’d already heard it before upon first playing the track, with echoes of other bands, particularly the opening moments that are reminiscent of the xx. Gregory sings, “it’s you I said / you keep running through my head / I swear it so” in the chorus, before a spirited Imagine Dragons-esque riff breaks out. Then there’s ‘Swans’, which at 8 minutes long is an ambitious step into the almost slightly too self-indulgent. Yet somehow, it works, with Gregory’s voice sounding like Bastille’s Dan Smith. The track starts slowly, with music and momentum lifting throughout the track, before dropping off and laying bare the vocals at the final moment.

This is an album that’s definitely worth a listen, particularly if indie is your bag. It’s a big statement from such a young group of guys, both lyrically and musically, and I’m excited to see where the trio go next.

7.5/10

‘That’s Your Lot’, the debut album from Blaenavon, is out now on Transgressive Records. To read more of TGTF’s coverage of Blaenavon, follow this link.

 

Album Review: K.Flay – Every Where is Some Where

 
By on Monday, 1st May 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

K.Flay Every Where is Some Where album coverKristine Meredith Flaherty, known professionally as K.Flay, is an alternative hip-hop singer/songwriter is originally from Wilmette, Illinois, but who has spent most of her musical career in California. Flaherty started out making music during her spare time at Stanford University, and released a series of mixtapes prior to the release of her debut. Musically, she’s something of an interesting blend of Lorde and Kendrick Lamar, with both punchy rap verses and strong vocals appearing throughout her music. In 2014, K. Flay released her first studio album, ‘Life as a Dog’. She’s now shared her second, ‘Every Where is Some Where’. It’s a vulnerable and emotive piece of work: with real life issues and concerns being raised in her lyrics, tipping into angst at times, they took me back to my teenage years.

The opening track ‘Dreamers’ is an indie electro number featuring a simply, yet catchy chorus, where Flaherty sings “this one goes out to all the dreamers at sea / this life is only what you want it to be” with the full-throated tone of Lorde. She then goes on to repeat “I want more”, speaking to the personal yet universal feeling of wanting to achieve something different. It does, however, feel a bit like a sentiment that we’ve already heard a lot of times in recent pop music. ‘High Enough’ taps into this also, talking about not needing drugs to have a good time, and being high in the company of someone else: “I’m already high enough/ you got me you got me good”.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkFVMDlcJF8[/youtube]

‘Hollywood Forever’, a slower, more mellow track, features Flaherty singing over and again in the chorus “in the dark everything it looks better / Hollywood forever, Hollywood forever”. The song stands out for its simplicity and spooky feel in the slow strum of the guitar that plays throughout the song and the way in which Flaherty really draws out her vocals. Similarly, ‘Giver’ has a darker tone with the thudding bass and Flaherty’s cagey vocals. It’s on these songs I feel that Flaherty’s writing talent stands out, in the simple, yet engaging nature of the tracks.

Moody and distorted, ‘Black Wave’ is a electro track with slower parts, cut with Flaherty rapping with a ferocious energy and industrial-style heaviness evocative of Nine Inch Nails. Flaherty gets political on the track, referencing issues with American law enforcement: “who you gonna trust when the killer is the cop”, although it does feel a bit awkwardly done.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2RiG5nhuPs[/youtube]

All in all, K. Flay is an interesting artist, and she’s working with musical styles that wouldn’t traditionally be put together. The album definitely has its merits, and some songs certainly stand out more than others, but for me it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

6/10

‘Every Where is Some Where’ is available now from Night Street / Interscope Records. To read more on K.Flay on TGTF, go here.

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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